In the 2 years since SORNA was enacted, the Department has made progress in implementing the law’s requirements, but in some cases has not completed implementation of those requirements. After SORNA was enacted, the Department drafted a memorandum summarizing the implementation of the Act.71 The memorandum contained a summary of the provisions of the Act and a proposed timeline for implementation by the Department. However, the Department did not issue this guidance to any component other than the SMART Office. While a Department official told us the memorandum was not intended to be an implementation plan, the Department did not make any other attempt to develop an implementation plan.
At the component level, OJP issued software to all jurisdictions to connect their public sex offender registry to the NSOPR portal, as required by SORNA, and OJP’s SMART Office is assisting jurisdictions in implementing enhancements to jurisdiction registry systems. In addition, in July 2008, the SMART Office issued guidelines to assist jurisdictions in implementing SORNA requirements. The SMART Office also created a checklist that will assist jurisdictions in implementing SORNA provisions and that will assist the SMART Office in determining whether jurisdictions are in compliance with SORNA.
We also determined that the USMS established a new investigative program, re-assigned existing resources to increase investigations and arrests of fugitive sex offenders, and plans to establish a National Sex Offender Targeting Center. The USMS has also increased the number of fugitive sex offender investigations each fiscal year, from 390 in FY 2004 to 2,962 in FY 2007. Prosecutions of fugitive sex offenders also increased from 0 to 162 during the same period, and the USAOs and Criminal Division assigned new and existing resources to prosecute federal fugitive sex offenders.
The FBI has met the SORNA requirements that sex offender registration information is electronically transmitted to relevant states when changes are made to an offender’s information and issued guidance that will enable NCMEC and certain government social service agency personnel to access FBI criminal information databases. In addition, the FBI indicated that it is willing to provide the USMS with complete electronic files of NSOR and NCIC Wanted Persons File data for use in fugitive sex offender investigations.
Yet, neither the FBI’s NSOR nor OJP’s NSOPR portal has complete and accurate listings of all of the sex offenders in the United States who are required to register. Department officials told us that the completeness and accuracy of both registries are dependant on the states and that state budget constraints have limited states’ abilities to keep registration information up to date. They also stated that state law enforcement may not know which sex offenders are registered or out of compliance because the offender’s registration status is not always identified by local agencies in jurisdiction and national registries.
As a result of our review, we are making the following recommendations to the Department’s components regarding the implementation of SORNA:
- The FBI should ensure NSOR has more complete and accurate information by designing and implementing a new audit of jurisdiction registries’ compliance with FBI NSOR procedures and with the SORNA guidelines.
- The FBI should implement the Advisory Policy Board-approved changes to NSOR that specifically provide information regarding fugitive status.
- The USMS should obtain NSOR and the NCIC Wanted Persons File data downloads from the FBI and use that information to manage and conduct fugitive sex offender investigations.